The BMW M3 looks headed for some stiff in-house rivalry in the form of a secret twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder version of the 3-series that’s little more than a year away from introduction. The new car, depicted here in computer-generated images based on recent scoop photographs, will be badged 335i according to Autocar sources.
The future 3-series range-topper will be ready for launch in left-hand-drive European markets by mid-2006, with right-hand-drive UK sales six months later. To be offered in coupé, saloon and estate guises, the 335i should bridge the gap that will be created in BMW’s range as the next M3 moves upmarket when it arrives in 2007 with 4.0-litre V8 power and a price to match.
The 3.0-litre straight six (right) is said to produce around 330bhp – up 72bhp on the new 330i and just 13bhp shy of today’s 3.2-litre M3. The new powerplant takes a leaf out of BMW’s latest diesel engine development by employing two turbochargers – one operating at lower engine speeds to boost low-end torque with the other called upon to extend power at the top end.‘It’s going to take turbocharging to a whole new level,’ said a supplier privy to the new engine’s performance claims. Nothing’s official, but a 0-60mph time of around 6.0sec appears to be on the cards with top speed limited to 155mph. By coupling turbocharging with Vanos variable valve timing and Valvetronic, the new engine is said to be very economical and Euro4 emission compatible.It’s possible that BMW is planning to provide the 335i with a new double-clutch gearbox similar to Volkswagen’s acclaimed DSG transmission. Tipped to replace the sequential manual unit used on the old 3-series, its development is cloaked in secrecy with a launch date still undetermined.
The new BMW won’t be the only model to carry the 335 name. Also under development is a new 3-series model fitted with the same twin turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel that’s used in the 535d.